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 positive benefits there will also unquestionably be a dark side to it all. Smarter systems are better, and spare innocent lives, but does that mean that less ethical actors could exploit less capable platforms to kill indiscriminately? Does that give them an advantage?
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 also briefly touch on the unfortunate role that the media plays in ratcheting up our anxiety. This episode features input from former CIA counterterrorism analyst Aki Peritz, terrorism expert Dr. Max Abrahms (a professor of public policy at Northeastern University), and one other contributor who I know well but who also must remain anonymous.
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 for another day. Instead, I look at the contrasts between those who seek to destroy and those who serve. I look at how Canadians responded to this tragedy and why that is important.
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 of the issue, offer my thoughts about who might win the war, and I explore what the eventual outcome might mean for intelligence professionals. However, I also argue that if either side “wins” the war without understanding and accommodating the positions of the other, we all stand to lose.
This is a slightly shorter and more focused episode but I’m exploring this format with the intention of releasing more than one episode per week. Please let me know what you think about the format change. You can do that on the Covert Contact Facebook Page or by connecting with me on Twitter @CovertContact.
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 our struggle to deeply understand terrorism and the people who engage in it. I’ll share some of my concerns about our progress in this area and recommend that you read an excellent piece by Lieutenant Colonel Jason Logue, an Australian Army Information Operations specialist, Fighting the Narrative: Understand to Effectively Engage in the War of Ideas. And then I’ll share some thoughts about terrorism and technology. ISIS stormed through Twitter just a few weeks ago and now many of them are paying the ultimate price for their trolling. I’ll explain why terrorism, social media, and apps aren’t the potent mix that many people fear they are and tell you who really stands to gain from these tools. A very thoughtful question from a listener follows.
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 of Murad Storm, the towering red-haired Danish agent who infiltrated al Qaeda. Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA is a fascinating read that raises many questions about our ability to infiltrate radical Islamic groups. And then a discussion about the darker side of eDiplomacy. Do we really want world leaders trolling each other on Twitter?