Covert Contact: The Blogs of War Podcast

Covert Contact: The Blogs of War Podcast

covertcontact.com
Covert Contact is a podcast hosted by John W. Little of Blogs of War which covers the key national security, intelligence, and technology events that are shaping our world.
Intelligence Analysis: Feedback, Bias, and Other Challenges | Episode 66
Mar 10 • 23 min
Dean Baratta, Chief of the Analysis Bureau at New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, joins me to discuss how bias can impact both the production and consumption of intelligence products. NJOHSP also produces a significant amount of…
Counterintelligence in the Trump Era | Episode 65
Feb 24 • 29 min
William J. Tucker, regular contributor on counterintelligence topics for Blogs of War and Covert Contact, joins me to discuss the unprecedented challenge the Trump presidency poses to both U.S. counterintelligence and the intelligence community as whole.…
Exploring Divergent Options | Episode 64
Feb 16 • 24 min
Divergent Options is a new effort to build a body of concise analysis (1,000 words or less) on national security topics from a global talent pool. The project was launched by Phil Walter and he joins me on Covert Contact to discuss the effort and the…
Understanding the Pace and Scope of Technology Driven Change | Episode 63
Feb 6 • 32 min
Covert Contact is back after a bit of break! Andrew Trabulsi, entrepreneur, consultant, and co-editor of Warlords, Inc.: Black Markets, Broken States, and the Rise of the Warlord Entrepreneur, joins me again for a discussion about the inherent challenges…
Russia, Trump, and Hillary | Episode 62
Oct 10, 2016 • 25 min
In episode 62 I look at what may have been the most bizarre presidential debate in U.S. history. Covert Contact regular William Tucker joins me later in the show to discuss the U.S. government’s formal acknowledgement that Russia is meddling in the U.S.…
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – The First Debate | Episode 61
Sep 27, 2016 • 3 min
I’m a little under the weather but here is a short wrap-up of last night’s debate. I’m thinking about producing more frequent, but shorter, episodes between the usual 30-45 minute long weekly interviews but I’d like to hear your thoughts on that idea.
Putin’s Struggle for Relevancy and Power | Episode 60
Sep 20, 2016 • 23 min
Covert Contact regular William Tucker joins me for a quick look at Putin’s outlook and the challenges he faces despite domestic political wins, successful rounds of international meddling, and attempts to reshape Russia’s domestic security, military, and…
Citizen Soldiers: Service and Sacrifice with Wendy R. Anderson | Episode 59
Sep 11, 2016 • 38 min
Wendy R. Anderson, Managing Director of Military and National Security Initiatives at Strong Eagle Media, joins me to discuss her company’s amazing new documentary Citizen Soldier and her previous work inside senior levels of the Department of Defense and…
Inside the President’s Daily Brief with David Priess | Episode 58
Aug 19, 2016 • 41 min
Dr. David Priess delivered the Presidents Daily Brief during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations and has produced the definitive history on the subject with The President’s Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to…
Fragmented Realities – AV and VR Update | Episode 57
Aug 12, 2016 • 33 min
Freelance writer and Zam.com columnist Robert Rath joins me in episode 57 to review the latest advances in virtual and augmented reality. Augmented reality, in the form of Pokemon Go, has captured much of the attention but the virtual reality market will…
Russia, Donald Trump, and the 2016 Election | Episode 56
Jul 31, 2016 • 25 min
Regular Blogs of War and Covert Contact contributor William Tucker joins me to look at allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Trump’s roll in the insanity, and the impact that it is having on American power and our allies in places like…
Journalism and Conflict in East Africa | Episode 55
Jul 29, 2016 • 31 min
In episode 55 Amanda Sperber joins me to discuss her work as a journalist in East Africa. Amanda has covered the region for Foreign Policy, VICE News, Al Jazeera English, and others. We discuss the challenges inherent in covering a largely overlooked, and…
The Nice, France Attack: How Can Counterterrorism Evolve with the Threat | Episode 54
Jul 16, 2016 • 40 min
In episode 54 I’m joined again by Patrick Skinner, Director of Special Projects for The Soufan Group. Patrick is a former CIA case officer, with a background in federal law enforcement, who specializes in counterterrorism issues. His background, and…
Building an Intel Shop from the Ground Up | Episode 53
Jul 5, 2016 • 28 min
In this episode Dean Baratta, Chief of the Analysis Bureau at New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, joins me to discuss how he and his leadership rebuilt their intelligence operation from the ground up. Their radical restructuring…
Russian Hackers Run Wild on the DNC | Episode 52
Jun 21, 2016 • 29 min
Regular Blogs of War and Covert Contact contributor William Tucker joins me to discuss the apparent Russian state-sponsored hack of the DNC. We also spend quite a bit of time discussing the sorry state of security. We’re talking about cyber issues…
The Orlando Shooting and Our Struggle to Make Sense of the Senseless | Episode 51
Jun 14, 2016 • 34 min
In episode 51 I’m joined again by Patrick Skinner, Director of Special Projects for The Soufan Group. Patrick is a former CIA case officer, with a background in federal law enforcement, who specializes in counterterrorism issues. This episode is not a…
Victor in The Rubble: Tackling Intelligence Community Bureaucracy Through Satire | Episode 50
Jun 12, 2016 • 28 min
Former CIA Reports Officer Alex Finley joins me in episode 50 to discuss her first novel and the business of intelligence. Victor in the Rubble is a satirical look at the CIA and the War on Terror. The book is insanely funny, and worth reading for the…
Developing and Leveraging Strategic Foresight | Episode 49
Jun 11, 2016 • 33 min
I was recently in Washington D.C. and one of the highlights of the trip was meeting Dr. Mat Burrows. Dr. Burrows is the Director of the Strategic Foresight Initiative in the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. Dr. Burrows…
Intelligence at the State and Local Level | Episode 48
Jun 6, 2016 • 31 min
I attended a domestic terrorism conference hosted by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness in May and came away very impressed with how they’re approaching the business of intelligence. They have built a great team of analysts and…
Lockpicking 101 (And Why Your Locks Are Useless) | Episode 47
Jun 1, 2016 • 34 min
I recently ran into Daniel Crowley at the BSides San Antonio security conference. He, and other members of Longhorn Lockpicking Club, had several tables covered with what could have easily been two hundred or more locks and they were teaching anyone who…
Cutting Through the Hybrid Warfare Hype | Episode 46
May 30, 2016 • 29 min
The conflict in Ukraine sparked a huge surge in interest in hybrid warfare. Phil Walter joins me in this episode to look at the less helpful aspects of that surge, discuss why the concept still matters, and to propose actions that could put us on better…
How Will ISIS Evolve and How Will Our Response Evolve with Them? | Episode 45
Apr 24, 2016 • 25 min
In episode 45 I’m joined again by Patrick Skinner, Director of Special Projects for The Soufan Group. Patrick is a former CIA case officer, with a background in federal law enforcement, who specializes in counterterrorism issues. In this episode we…
Navigating Massive Technological Change | Episode 44
Apr 19, 2016 • 40 min
Andrew Trabulsi, entrepreneur, consultant, and co-editor of Warlords, Inc.: Black Markets, Broken States, and the Rise of the Warlord Entrepreneur, joins me to discuss how profound shifts in technology create risk and opportunities for governments. We…
Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin: Identity, Espionage, and Counterintelligence | Episode 43
Apr 14, 2016 • 23 min
Regular Blogs of War and Covert Contact contributor William Tucker joins me to discuss the Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin espionage case. While little is known about the case, and Edward Lin has yet to be convicted, all signs point to a very damaging…
The Rise and Challenge of Transnational Crime | Episode 42
Apr 11, 2016 • 27 min
Andrew Trabulsi, entrepreneur, consultant, and co-editor of Warlords, Inc.: Black Markets, Broken States, and the Rise of the Warlord Entrepreneur, joins me to discuss the growing impact of transnational crime and how it intersects with destabilizing…
What Did Russia Gain in Syria? | Episode 41
Apr 3, 2016 • 38 min
Regular Blogs of War and Covert Contact contributor William Tucker joins me after a long break to discuss Russia’s intervention in Syria. Why are they there, what were their true motives, what have they gained, and where does this action fit in the…
Are Ungoverned Spaces Inherently Dangerous? | Episode 40
Feb 16, 2016 • 29 min
In this episode Phil Walter joins me to discuss some of the concepts laid out in his recent post on Blogs of War about ungoverned spaces and how they’re viewed from a national security perspective. His recent piece on Blogs of War challenges some of the…
Russian Strengths – and Weaknesses | Episode 39
Feb 9, 2016 • 32 min
We expend vast amounts of analytical energy studying Russia. And we have done so for decades. So why do we so often miss the mark when it comes to understanding their strengths and weaknesses? William Tucker joins me once again to look at the challenges…
Iran’s Quest for Regional Domination | Episode 38
Jan 25, 2016 • 63 min
This episode was recorded just after Iran briefly detained and released 10 American sailors. Researcher Phillip Smyth joined me to discuss that event and the avalanche of terrible analysis that it triggered, Iran’s quest for regional domination, and its…
LZ Grace: A Place for Warriors to Heal | Episode 37
Jan 12, 2016 • 38 min
This week Lynnette Bukowski joins me to discuss LZ Grace Warriors Retreat. Lynnette, and many volunteers, have transformed a 38 acre farm in Virginia Beach into a place for members of the special operations community and first responders to decompress and…
Saudi Arabia vs. Iran and The Burns Oregon Militia Standoff | Episode 36
Jan 4, 2016 • 38 min
William Tucker joins me once again to review the escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran and the militia standoff in Burns, Oregon. Did Saudi Arabia go too far? How will Iran respond? Why is the federal government handling the armed militia…
Closing Out 2015 and Looking Toward 2016 with William Tucker | Episode 35
Jan 1, 2016 • 51 min
Regular contributor William Tucker joined me for the final episode of 2015. We discussed holiday terror alerts, Poland’s unusual raid of a NATO-linked counterintelligence center that it operated with Slovakia, the U.S. Army Europe counterintelligence…
Art in Diplomacy and Conflict | Episode 34
Dec 26, 2015 • 37 min
Dr. Julia Tatiana Bailey is an art historian specializing in visual politics in the Cold War and art as propaganda, diplomacy and resistance. She recently completed a PhD focusing on official and unofficial Soviet-American cultural exchange and works as…
Understanding and Influencing Enemy Behavior | Episode 33
Dec 22, 2015 • 35 min
Phil Walter joins me again to discuss behavior. Why do the actors we seek to influence, friend and foe alike, behave the way that they do? What advantage does a deep understanding of the underlying motivations for their behavior give us? It’s easy to be…
Video Games, Virtual Reality, and Conflict with Robert Rath | Episode 32
Dec 19, 2015 • 51 min
In episode 32 of Covert Contact freelance writer Robert Rath joins me to discuss video games and the very real violence that surrounds us. Gaming, especially in the first person shooter genre, reflects our view of combat but it can shape our views on the…
Understanding the Limits of Intelligence and Counterterrorism | Episode 31
Dec 14, 2015 • 46 min
In episode 31 I’m joined by Patrick Skinner, Director of Special Projects for The Soufan Group. Patrick is a former CIA case officer who specializes in counter-terrorism issues. Patrick’s background in both law enforcement (US Air Marshals and the US…
The San Bernardino Attack, Small Scale Terrorism, and ISIS | Episode 30
Dec 7, 2015 • 53 min
Regular contributor on terrorism and counterintelligence topics, William Tucker, joins me again to review the horrific and unusual attacks in San Bernardino. We discuss the odd, possible hybrid, nature of the attack, the challenge these types of attacks…
Islamism and Democracy: Finding Models for the Middle East and Preserving Our Own | Episode 29
Nov 30, 2015 • 45 min
In episode 29 Brookings Institution senior fellow and author of Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East joins me to discuss the difficult relationship Islamist movements have with democracy and power at the state level…
Thanksgiving | Episode 28
Nov 26, 2015 • 9 min
Normally I’d spend this day surrounded by friends and family. I hope that’s what many of you are doing. But today I have some kind of bug. It’s nothing serious, just a minor cold, but I have relatives with compromised immune systems and I’m staying home…
Turkey Shot Down a Russian Jet – Where Do We Go From Here? | Episode 27
Nov 24, 2015 • 14 min
Putin called today’s downing of a Russian Su-24 by a Turkish F16 a “stab in the back” but it this was certainly not an unproved attack. In fact it follows countless warnings from Turkey that violations of its airspace (and aggression against its interests…
What You Are Getting Wrong About ISIS | Episode 26
Nov 23, 2015 • 47 min
Northeastern University professor and terrorism theorist Max Abrahms excels at poking holes in the conventional wisdom and he joins me again in episode 26 to do exactly that. I initially asked Max to discuss his recent piece in Harvard Business Review Why…
Catching Russian Spies with Former Double Agent Naveed Jamali | Episode 25
Nov 20, 2015 • 31 min
In episode 25 I’m talking to Naveed Jamali, former double agent, and co-author of How to Catch a Russian Spy: The True Story of an American Civilian Turned Double Agent. Naveed seemed like an unlikely candidate for this sort of intrigue but Russian…
The Paris Attacks and Europe’s Security Challenges | Episode 24
Nov 16, 2015 • 44 min
William J. Tucker joins me again for a high level look at the Paris attacks and the impact that instability, chiefly in Syria, will have on the region. Failing states and the mass migration of refugees will continue to put immense pressure on dozens of…
War and the New Normal: Phil Walter on Life After War | Episode 23
Nov 13, 2015 • 41 min
In episode 23 Phil Walter joins me to talk about his transition from the the battlefield, to home, and eventually into a role where he has the opportunity to work on national security policy. I’m thankful to Phil for sharing his personal story because I…
Supporting Independent Art in Afghanistan: Francesca Recchia Updates from Kabul | Episode 22
Nov 8, 2015 • 26 min
Regular Covert Contact listeners will recognize Francesca from episodes 9 and 17. This episode follows the same general format. We discussed the mood in Kabul, the emergence of ISIS and AQIS, and I asked her about the perception of both Iran and Russia…
The Damascus Cover and the Psychology of Spies with Howard Kaplan | Episode 21
Nov 2, 2015 • 24 min
Howard Kaplan wrote his debut espionage novel, The Damascus Cover, nearly forty years ago. He joins me to discuss the book, the recently completed the film adaptation staring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Sir John Hurt, his own experience serving as a courier…
Government Email Problems, Wikileaks, Russia, Drone Leaks, NASA Security and Other Counterintelligence Nightmares | Episode 20
Oct 27, 2015 • 50 min
Covert Contact kicks off again with an admittedly rambling, but hopefully entertaining, start as I review a number of high profile security issues with counterintelligence pro William Tucker. We look at the hack of DCIA John Brennan’s AOL account, Hillary…
Encryption as the New Norm: Discussing A Changing Internet with ProtonMail Co-Founder Andy Yen | Episode 19
Mar 27, 2015 • 26 min
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been evaluating ProtonMail. This service is part of a new generation of tools (most inspired by Edward Snowden) developed with the aim of delivering robust encrypted communications and file sharing to the widest possible…
The Battle Between Encryption and Mass Surveillance with Former FBI Agent David Gomez | Episode 18
Mar 23, 2015 • 30 min
I emailed retired FBI agent David Gomez from my new ProtonMail account to propose a podcast about encryption and its effect on mass surveillance from a homeland security and law enforcement perspective. You’re reading this because he immediately accepted.…
Life, and Art, in Afghanistan with Francesca Recchia | Episode 17
Mar 18, 2015 • 20 min
In this episode I catch up with Francesca Recchia to get an update on life in Kabul, Afghanistan where, mostly thanks to the weather, life has been even more difficult than usual. But the conversation also shifts quickly to the subject of art, and…
Why Terrorism Fails: A Discussion with Max Abrahms | Episode 16
Mar 16, 2015 • 37 min
We know that terrorism succeeds at terrorizing its targets but does it help the groups behind it achieve their political goals? In this episode I’m joined by Northeastern University professor and terrorism theorist Max Abrahms who makes a persuasive case…
Hillary Clinton’s Email Server: Dissecting the Risks with William Tucker | Episode 15
Mar 11, 2015 • 29 min
William J. Tucker joins me again to discuss Hillary Clinton’s decision to manage her own email services while Secretary of State. While this decision has angered political opponents and government transparency advocates (not to mention a few historians)…
Andy Priest on the Importance of Developing New International Crisis Policing Models | Episode 14
Mar 9, 2015 • 35 min
Policing is on the agenda again in episode 14. In this episode I talk to Andy Priest about his international rapid intervention concept that focuses on providing advanced police support during critically destabilizing events. Andy stresses the importance…
Scriven King on Balancing Security, Values, and Public Perception in Modern Policing | Episode 13
Mar 5, 2015 • 29 min
In episode 13 I speak to security blogger/podcaster, and Blogs of War contributor, Scriven King about some of the challenges in modern policing. Security professionals, police included, are scrambling to understand rapidly evolving technologies and…
Counterintelligence: William J. Tucker Breaks Down the Challenges | Episode 12
Jan 31, 2015 • 43 min
In this episode I’m talking to William J. Tucker about counterintelligence. It is a complex discipline that is often misunderstood – even by intelligence professionals. But it presents as many opportunities as it does challenges and this conversation…
Counterterrorism Challenges – Pondering Seemingly Unsolvable Problems with Phillip Smyth | Episode 11
Dec 19, 2014 • 59 min
The first Covert Contact interview features University of Maryland Laboratory for Computational Cultural Dynamics researcher Phillip Smyth. Phillip is also well known for his Hizballah Cavalcade project on Jihadology. Phillip specializes in Shia militias,…
The Senate Torture Report | Episode 10
Dec 10, 2014 • 6 min
It is always disheartening when America does not live up to the standards many of us expect and in the adoption and execution of enhanced interrogation we have failed to do that on many levels. The primary failure is that our elected officials and the…
Art in Afghanistan: Francesca Recchia Updates from Kabul | Episode 9
Nov 28, 2014 • 14 min
Episode nine focuses on the unusual work of Francesca Recchia. Francesca is an independent researcher and writer who has worked in many challenging places including Iraq, Pakistan, and Palestine. She is currently in Kabul and this episode features several…
The Navy SEAL Who Killed Osama bin Laden and the Heroes You’ll Never Know | Episode 8
Nov 14, 2014 • 8 min
In episode eight I look at the case of Navy SEAL Rob O’Neill and the culture that lures men and women like him out of the shadows and into a world of fame, ego gratification, and financial reward. I examine the role that military leadership and our…
Why Daesh’s Social Media Campaign is a Massive Failure | Episode 7
Nov 4, 2014 • 11 min
In episode 7 I’m pushing back at the notion that Daesh’s social media visibility equals success. The group might have mastered trolling and they can shoot and edit passable HD video but are these activities going to help them achieve their goals or are…
Robots and the Future of Warfare: The Advantage Might Not Lie with the Inventors | Episode 6
Oct 30, 2014 • 15 min
In episode 6 I look at the evolution of unmanned platforms and speculate about the impact that they could have on warfare. The technology is evolving faster than our appreciation for the complications it will bring so while there will be countless…
Lone Wolf Terrorism and the Importance of Perspective | Episode 5
Oct 25, 2014 • 16 min
In episode 5 I take a look at the real impact of lone wolf terror attacks, why ISIS seems to have been more successful than al-Qaeda at motivating these individual actors, and how the average citizen can put these acts of violence in proper perspective. I…
What the Attack in Ottawa Teaches Us About Terrorists – And Ourselves | Episode 4
Oct 22, 2014 • 7 min
As promised earlier today I recorded brief thoughts about today’s attack. I had originally intended this to be a discussion about a particular type of attack and terrorist strategy but much is still unknown in this case. I decided to save those thoughts…
Crypto Wars: Winners, Losers, and the Case for Compromise | Episode 3
Oct 21, 2014 • 13 min
This week I’m focusing on a single critical topic – the struggle between privacy advocates and governments over cryptography. This is a sensitive topic and there are a lot of extreme positions on the matter. I attempt to take a balanced look at both sides…
The State of Twitter, the Struggle to Understand, and The Perils of Technology for Terrorists | Episode 2
Oct 15, 2014 • 24 min
This week, I’m offering my take on the notion than Twitter is broken. David Auerbach did a fine job of arguing just that in Slate recently, and I agree with much of what he wrote, but my conclusion might surprise you. I’m also offering some thoughts on…
Intelligence Failures, Agent Storm, and eDiplomacy Trolling | Episode 1
Oct 6, 2014 • 16 min
Welcome to the launch of Covert Contact: The Blogs of War Podcast. In episode 1 I am looking at the notion of intelligence failures and why they’re often more complicated than they seem – or not failures at all. I’m also taking a look at the new biography…