Covert Contact: The Blogs of War Podcast http://covertcontact.com Covert Contact covers the key national security, intelligence, and technology stories that are shaping our world. Fri, 13 May 2016 01:04:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://covertcontact.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/bowcc1444podsm-150x150.jpg Covert Contact: The Blogs of War Podcast http://covertcontact.com 32 32 Covert Contact covers the key national security, intelligence, and technology stories that are shaping our world.<br /> <br /> Covert Contact is hosted by Blogs of War creator John W. Little. His work and analysis has been featured on the BBC, CNN, CBC, ABC (Australia), PBS Newshour, Fast Company, CBS, and other international media outlets. The Blogs of War Twitter feed, @Blogsofwar, was selected as one of the top Twitter accounts of 2014 by Time magazine. John W. Little clean John W. Little johnwlittle@gmail.com johnwlittle@gmail.com (John W. Little) Copyright John W. Little 2015 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. Covert Contact: The Blogs of War Podcast http://covertcontact.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/bowcc1444pod.jpg http://covertcontact.com johnwlittle@gmail.com Covert Contact covers the key national security, intelligence, and technology stories that are shaping our world.. Covert Contact is hosted by Blogs of War creator John Little. His work and analysis has been featured on the BBC, CBC, ABC, PBS Newshour, Fast Company, CBS, CNN and other international media outlets. The Blogs of War Twitter feed, @Blogsofwar, was selected as one of the top Twitter accounts of 2014 by Time magazine. TV-G Weekly How Will ISIS Evolve and How Will Our Response Evolve with Them? | Episode 45 http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/24/how-will-isis-evolve-and-how-will-our-response-evolve-with-them-episode-45/ http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/24/how-will-isis-evolve-and-how-will-our-response-evolve-with-them-episode-45/#respond Mon, 25 Apr 2016 00:51:15 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=570 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 discuss the danger of an Islamic State under pressure and what that threat will look like over the next few months and possibly years. We also look at our approach to counterterrorism more broadly and discuss the many ways in which our understanding of the problem influences the tools we choose to use. Understanding the problem correctly, developing the proper perspective, is the key to long-term success and it doesn’t feel like we’re there just yet.

I’ll be traveling so this will be the last episode of Covert Contact until mid-May. Subscribe now and you’ll get new episodes delivered automatically as soon as production resumes.

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http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/24/how-will-isis-evolve-and-how-will-our-response-evolve-with-them-episode-45/feed/ 0 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 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 discuss the danger of an Islamic State under pressure and what that threat will look […] John W. Little clean 25:29
Navigating Massive Technological Change | Episode 44 http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/19/navigating-massive-technological-change-episode-44/ http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/19/navigating-massive-technological-change-episode-44/#respond Tue, 19 Apr 2016 05:38:42 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=565 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 look at how artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and advancements in health care are poised to reshape our world – perhaps even more drastically than the seismic shifts that came before. The United States is well positioned to succeed in this environment, and the technology gap will create opportunities for dominance. However, new technologies also bring new vulnerabilities, new tensions, and new opportunities for determined competitors. The only thing that can be taken for granted is change.

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http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/19/navigating-massive-technological-change-episode-44/feed/ 0 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. 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 look at how artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and advancements in health care are poised to reshape our world […] John W. Little clean 40:46
Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin: Identity, Espionage, and Counterintelligence | Episode 43 http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/13/lieutenant-commander-edward-lin-identity-espionage-and-counterintelligence-episode-43/ http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/13/lieutenant-commander-edward-lin-identity-espionage-and-counterintelligence-episode-43/#respond Thu, 14 Apr 2016 04:37:37 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=560 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 affair. Lin was born in Taiwan, left with his family at 14, and became a naturalized citizen in 2008 before working his way into one of the Navy’s most sensitive roles. It will be a case to watch – and will likely take a long time to unfold.

Along the we we touch on the necessity and challenges of integrating naturalized citizens into our defense and intelligence communities, the difficulty of protecting America’s vast intelligence and military machine, and how complex counterintelligence investigations are managed.

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http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/13/lieutenant-commander-edward-lin-identity-espionage-and-counterintelligence-episode-43/feed/ 0 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, 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 affair. Lin was born in Taiwan, left with his family at 14, […] John W. Little clean 23:54
The Rise and Challenge of Transnational Crime | Episode 42 http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/11/the-rise-and-challenge-of-transnational-crime-episode-42/ http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/11/the-rise-and-challenge-of-transnational-crime-episode-42/#respond Tue, 12 Apr 2016 02:23:12 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=556 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 forces ranging from empowered individuals, to terrorist organizations, to rogue governments.

The key question at the heart of this discussion is our response. How can large bureaucratic organizations, such as the U.S. intelligence community, position themselves to counter incredibly nimble (and increasingly empowered) actors who are unconstrained by law or ethics? We just scratch the surface here but this episode will be followed by several more focused discussions with Andrew as we search for answers.

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http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/11/the-rise-and-challenge-of-transnational-crime-episode-42/feed/ 0 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 f... 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 forces ranging from empowered individuals, to terrorist organizations, to rogue governments. The key question at the heart of this […] John W. Little clean 27:22
What Did Russia Gain in Syria? | Episode 41 http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/03/what-did-russia-gain-in-syria-episode-41/ http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/03/what-did-russia-gain-in-syria-episode-41/#respond Sun, 03 Apr 2016 23:05:17 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=553 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 context of Russia’s long-standing adversarial position with NATO and the West? We also look at Russia’s conflict with Turkey, structural weaknesses influencing their behavior, and prospects for improving their relationship with the West along the way.

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http://covertcontact.com/2016/04/03/what-did-russia-gain-in-syria-episode-41/feed/ 0 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, 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 context of Russia’s long-standing adversarial position with NATO and the West? We […] John W. Little clean 38:22
Are Ungoverned Spaces Inherently Dangerous? | Episode 40 http://covertcontact.com/2016/02/16/are-ungoverned-spaces-inherently-dangerous-episode-40/ http://covertcontact.com/2016/02/16/are-ungoverned-spaces-inherently-dangerous-episode-40/#respond Wed, 17 Feb 2016 01:56:54 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=545 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 lazy assumptions and imprecise thinking on the topic and we dig a little deeper, and explore the possible implications of it all, in this episode.

Phil has served in the military, the intelligence community, and the inter-agency. His written works are catalogued on Storify and archived at www.philwalter1058.com. I highly recommend them if you are at all interested in national security issues. You can follow him on Twitter @philwalter1058 and he is a member of the Military Writer’s Guild.The views expressed here are those of the participants alone and do not contain information of an official nature.

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http://covertcontact.com/2016/02/16/are-ungoverned-spaces-inherently-dangerous-episode-40/feed/ 0 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 th... 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 lazy assumptions and imprecise thinking on the topic and […] John W. Little clean 29:30
Russian Strengths – and Weaknesses | Episode 39 http://covertcontact.com/2016/02/08/russian-strengths-and-weaknesses-episode-39/ http://covertcontact.com/2016/02/08/russian-strengths-and-weaknesses-episode-39/#respond Tue, 09 Feb 2016 05:01:47 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=537 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 facing Russia, their ability to act within constraints that would hobble other nations, and how they might evolve and cope in the face of serious economic and demographic pressures.

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http://covertcontact.com/2016/02/08/russian-strengths-and-weaknesses-episode-39/feed/ 0 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 challenge... 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 facing Russia, their ability to act within constraints that would hobble other […] John W. Little clean 32:09
Iran’s Quest for Regional Domination | Episode 38 http://covertcontact.com/2016/01/25/irans-quest-for-regional-domination-episode-38/ http://covertcontact.com/2016/01/25/irans-quest-for-regional-domination-episode-38/#respond Tue, 26 Jan 2016 02:44:23 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=534 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 use of proxies to further those aims. We also look at Iran’s relationship with Russia and the similar strategies they’ve both employed to expand their influence. Where will this sustained, and in many ways successful, effort by Iran to project power regionally take them – and us over the next decade?

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http://covertcontact.com/2016/01/25/irans-quest-for-regional-domination-episode-38/feed/ 0 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, 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 use of proxies to further those aims. We also look at Iran’s relationship with Russia and the similar strategies […] John W. Little clean 1:03:26
LZ Grace: A Place for Warriors to Heal | Episode 37 http://covertcontact.com/2016/01/12/lz-grace-a-place-for-warriors-to-heal-episode-37/ http://covertcontact.com/2016/01/12/lz-grace-a-place-for-warriors-to-heal-episode-37/#respond Tue, 12 Jan 2016 16:15:24 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=531 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 recharge. Lynnette shares the story of her husband, a Navy SEAL, and we discuss some of the unique challenges the she faces in supporting who are accustomed to serving, and often suffering, in silence.

The episode closes out with another update on Russia, and their involvement with Hezbollah, from William Tucker.

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http://covertcontact.com/2016/01/12/lz-grace-a-place-for-warriors-to-heal-episode-37/feed/ 0 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 ... 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 recharge. Lynnette shares the story of her husband, a Navy SEAL, and we discuss […] John W. Little clean 38:56
Saudi Arabia vs. Iran and The Burns Oregon Militia Standoff | Episode 36 http://covertcontact.com/2016/01/04/saudi-arabia-vs-iran-and-the-burns-oregon-militia-standoff-episode-36/ http://covertcontact.com/2016/01/04/saudi-arabia-vs-iran-and-the-burns-oregon-militia-standoff-episode-36/#respond Tue, 05 Jan 2016 04:32:54 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=525 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 members in Burns with kid gloves? We address those questions and others.

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http://covertcontact.com/2016/01/04/saudi-arabia-vs-iran-and-the-burns-oregon-militia-standoff-episode-36/feed/ 0 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 m... 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 members in Burns with kid gloves? We address those questions and others. John W. Little clean 38:56
Closing Out 2015 and Looking Toward 2016 with William Tucker | Episode 35 http://covertcontact.com/2016/01/01/closing-out-2015-and-looking-toward-2016-with-william-tucker-episode-35/ http://covertcontact.com/2016/01/01/closing-out-2015-and-looking-toward-2016-with-william-tucker-episode-35/#respond Sat, 02 Jan 2016 04:23:42 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=519 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 division’s release of a mobile app for soliciting tips, and more. We closed out this episode with thoughts about the year ahead. We looked at Asia, Russia, Mexico, the future of ISIS – and what may rise when it eventually falls.

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http://covertcontact.com/2016/01/01/closing-out-2015-and-looking-toward-2016-with-william-tucker-episode-35/feed/ 0 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. 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 division’s release of a mobile app for soliciting tips, and more. We closed out this episode with thoughts about the […] John W. Little clean 51:39
Art in Diplomacy and Conflict | Episode 34 http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/26/art-in-diplomacy-and-conflict-episode-34/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/26/art-in-diplomacy-and-conflict-episode-34/#respond Sun, 27 Dec 2015 01:58:45 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=484 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 Assistant Curator of International Art at Tate Modern in London. Julia blogs on Cold War art at ESPIONART and can be found on Twitter at @espionart and @tattyjewels.

In this episode we discussed the importance of art in international relations and conflict – what we can learn from it and how it can be leveraged for influence. Much of the focus is on art as a tool during the Cold War but we also jump forward to the current environment which is being shaped by concerns about technology and surveillance – a topic of Julia’s recent guest post on Blogs of War.

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/26/art-in-diplomacy-and-conflict-episode-34/feed/ 0 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 a... 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 Assistant Curator of International Art at Tate Modern in London. Julia blogs on Cold War art […] John W. Little clean 37:04
Understanding and Influencing Enemy Behavior | Episode 33 http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/22/understanding-and-influencing-enemy-behavior-episode-33/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/22/understanding-and-influencing-enemy-behavior-episode-33/#respond Wed, 23 Dec 2015 02:57:19 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=479 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 dismissive of an enemy’s needs, wants, and desires but in doing so we risk undermining our ability to counter them and anticipate their next move. We also touch on the complexity of the Middle East (how could we not?) and debate how to balance intimate and precise engagement at the individual or tribal level with much broader diplomatic efforts at the macro level.

Phil has written a companion piece to this podcast, Behavior Change and the Instruments of Power, which can be found on Blogs of War.

The views expressed here are those of the author alone and do not contain information of an official nature.

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/22/understanding-and-influencing-enemy-behavior-episode-33/feed/ 0 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? 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 dismissive of an enemy’s needs, wants, and desires but in […] John W. Little clean 35:25
Video Games, Virtual Reality, and Conflict with Robert Rath | Episode 32 http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/18/video-games-virtual-reality-and-conflict-with-robert-rath-episode-32/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/18/video-games-virtual-reality-and-conflict-with-robert-rath-episode-32/#respond Sat, 19 Dec 2015 05:15:52 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=434 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 subject as well. Video game inspired technology is also increasingly leveraged by the military for training systems – and weapons control systems as well. The lines between real and simulated combat are starting to blur. There are obvious parallels in the emergence of drones but rapidly evolving virtual reality capabilities and robotics are going to make gaming and warfare, not to mention reality itself, change in ways that are difficult to predict but sure to be profound. This is a fascinating topic and we just scratched the surface in this hour. But rest assured that we will be revisiting some of the subjects covered here for much deeper dives in future episodes of the show.

Robert has written on the subject extensively and I highly recommend some of his recent work on the topic including Ground Zeroes Gets Intelligence Right, Modern Warfare is a Comforting Lie, Military Expert P.W. Singer Predicts the Video Game Wars of the Future (Playboy – But now safe for work), and Pikachu and Pepper Spray: Hong Kong’s Geeky Protest Art.

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/18/video-games-virtual-reality-and-conflict-with-robert-rath-episode-32/feed/ 0 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 t... 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 subject as well. Video game inspired technology is also increasingly […] John W. Little clean 51:32
Understanding the Limits of Intelligence and Counterterrorism | Episode 31 http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/14/understanding-the-limits-of-intelligence-and-counterterrorism-episode-31/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/14/understanding-the-limits-of-intelligence-and-counterterrorism-episode-31/#respond Tue, 15 Dec 2015 03:34:05 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=429 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 Capitol Police) and intelligence has positioned him to understand the full array of challenges we face in our intelligence and counterterrorism efforts and it is those challenges that we focus on in this podcast.

How dow we deal with unpreventable attacks? How do we attack root causes? How can an enormous bureaucracy like the U.S. government adapt to fight incredibly agile adversaries? Does consumer encryption really present a significant barrier? How do we find the balance between human intelligence and technology driven collection? We cover it all – and then some in this episode.

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/14/understanding-the-limits-of-intelligence-and-counterterrorism-episode-31/feed/ 0 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 C... 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 Capitol Police) and intelligence has positioned him to understand the full array of challenges we […] John W. Little clean 46:27
The San Bernardino Attack, Small Scale Terrorism, and ISIS | Episode 30 http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/07/the-san-bernardino-attack-small-scale-terrorism-and-isis-episode-30/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/07/the-san-bernardino-attack-small-scale-terrorism-and-isis-episode-30/#respond Tue, 08 Dec 2015 04:41:58 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=424 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 pose to our homeland security efforts, and what can be done in the face of what are essentially unpreventable attacks. Along the way we discuss the ISIS connection and how efforts to counter the group (or an unwillingness to aggressively address the issue) will impact our counterterrorism efforts for years to come.

Related Links
All episodes featuring William J. Tucker
Follow William J. Tucker on Twitter

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/12/07/the-san-bernardino-attack-small-scale-terrorism-and-isis-episode-30/feed/ 0 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, 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 pose to our homeland security efforts, and what can be done in the face of what are […] John W. Little clean 53:36
Islamism and Democracy: Finding Models for the Middle East and Preserving Our Own | Episode 29 http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/30/islamism-and-democracy-finding-models-for-the-middle-east-and-preserving-our-own-episode-29/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/30/islamism-and-democracy-finding-models-for-the-middle-east-and-preserving-our-own-episode-29/#respond Mon, 30 Nov 2015 21:14:43 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=418 Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East

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 in general. Years of research, and deep contacts, led Shadi to some unexpected findings about how Islamist movements navigate through political systems. We also discuss the state of affairs in the United States – primarily the apparent increase in, and acceptance of, anti-Muslim bigotry in the 2016 presidential campaign. It is a fascinating discussion that reflects the challenges inherent in democracy and serves as a reminder that the tensions balanced by democracy could also destroy it if society rejects or loses the shared value system that makes it all possible.

Related Links
Follow @shadihamid on Twitter
Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East
Brookings Institution: Shadi Hamid

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/30/islamism-and-democracy-finding-models-for-the-middle-east-and-preserving-our-own-episode-29/feed/ 0 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 le... 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 in general. Years of research, and deep contacts, led Shadi to some unexpected findings about […] John W. Little clean 45:02
Thanksgiving | Episode 28 http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/26/thanksgiving-episode-28/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/26/thanksgiving-episode-28/#respond Fri, 27 Nov 2015 04:01:52 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=413 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 so as not to put them at risk.

I did still manage a bit of a Thanksgiving feast thanks to my girlfriend, who I am very thankful for. She drove out to Chinatown and managed to secure an entire Peking Duck meal (not easy on a holiday) and brought it back to me earlier today. I’m definitely thankful for her.

I am also thankful for you. I appreciate those of you who listen. I managed to produce 8 episodes last month and the response has exceeded my expectations. I talk to some of you on Twitter but there are huge portions of the Covert Contact audience that I haven’t connected with. Please feel free to drop me a line at covertcontact@protonmail.com or via the contact form. I’d love to hear what you think of the show and what you’d like to hear in the future.

I don’t want to dwell on negatives today or get overly political so I’ll just say this. I am very thankful for those of you out there who are quiet. The vast majority of people on this planet are decent. You’re focused on your families and your communities. You move between the extremes and you are often the victims of, or shouted down by, those on the extremes. You mind your own business and you are quiet and decent. You don’t hate people who are different than you. You don’t try to force your beliefs on others, you don’t abandon your principals out of fear. I am thankful that most of you are like this. However, the world seems to have taken a darker turn recently. So, as we approach the new year I hope to see more decent people stand up and speak out when confronted hatred, bigotry, or ignorance wherever they see it. Decent people can’t be quiet in difficult times or extremists will be able to set the agenda.

Before I sign off I want to say thank you to those who have been on the show and those of you who have quietly supported me as I tried to create this podcast – people like William Tucker, Francesca Recchia, Phil Walter, Max Abrahms, Stilgherrian, Ty Mayfield, Andy Priest, Naveed Jamali, Howard Kaplan, Andy Yen, David Gomez, and many others. I am only able to do this with the support of good friends and smart people who willing to share their ideas with others.

I am also thankful for my friends around the world who, often in the face of terrible media reports and an uninformed public, are working around the clock to secure the safety of others. Your work is appreciated here.

I hope all of you have something to be thankful for today and can pause and reflect on that even if you’re not celebrating an American holiday.

Thanks for listening.

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/26/thanksgiving-episode-28/feed/ 0 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 hom... 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 so as not to put them at risk. I […] John W. Little clean 9:00
Turkey Shot Down a Russian Jet – Where Do We Go From Here? | Episode 27 http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/24/turkey-shot-down-a-russian-jet-where-do-we-go-from-here-episode-27/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/24/turkey-shot-down-a-russian-jet-where-do-we-go-from-here-episode-27/#respond Wed, 25 Nov 2015 04:56:13 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=406 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 on its border) will not go unchecked. Terrorism analyst and counterintelligence pro William J. Tucker joins me again for a look at this event, the circumstances that got us here, and where we might be going.

Related Links
All episodes featuring William J. Tucker
Follow William J. Tucker on Twitter

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/24/turkey-shot-down-a-russian-jet-where-do-we-go-from-here-episode-27/feed/ 0 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 intere... 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 on its border) will not go unchecked. Terrorism analyst and counterintelligence […] John W. Little clean 14:44
What You Are Getting Wrong About ISIS | Episode 26 http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/23/what-you-are-getting-wrong-about-isis-episode-26/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/23/what-you-are-getting-wrong-about-isis-episode-26/#respond Mon, 23 Nov 2015 12:40:47 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=404 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 People Keep Saying, “That’s What the Terrorists Want” but we expanded the discussion to explore commonly accepted ideas about ISIS – their supposed strategic and tactical brilliance, the viability of their so-called caliphate, and the notion that legitimate governments somehow don’t have the tools to address the problem that ISIS represents.

You can follow Max on Twitter @MaxAbrahms and read his work at https://neu.academia.edu/MaxAbrahms. I also recommend reading “The Political Effectiveness of Terrorism Revisited” for a more comprehensive breakdown of Max’s research and arguments on this subject.

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/23/what-you-are-getting-wrong-about-isis-episode-26/feed/ 0 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 ... 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 People Keep Saying, “That’s What the Terrorists Want” but we expanded the discussion […] John W. Little clean 47:56
Catching Russian Spies with Former Double Agent Naveed Jamali | Episode 25 http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/20/catching-russian-spies-with-former-double-agent-naveed-jamali-episode-25/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/20/catching-russian-spies-with-former-double-agent-naveed-jamali-episode-25/#respond Fri, 20 Nov 2015 14:55:40 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=401 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 intelligence used his parent’s company to order U.S. government publications. The FBI, of course, wanted to know what the Russians were reading. He could have remained a low-level informant, notifying the FBI of the Russian’s reading habits and interests as his parents had, but Naveed wanted to take it further. He had access, some natural talent, and a lot interest in playing the game.

Our conversation focuses on Naveed’s unusual position and what it’s like to navigate this very confusing territory as a complete amateur.

Related Links
NaveedJamali.com
Follow Naveed on Twitter @CatchaRUSSpy

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/20/catching-russian-spies-with-former-double-agent-naveed-jamali-episode-25/feed/ 0 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 int... 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 intelligence used his parent’s company to order U.S. government publications. The FBI, […] John W. Little clean 31:41
The Paris Attacks and Europe’s Security Challenges | Episode 24 http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/16/the-paris-attacks-and-europes-security-challenges-episode-24/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/16/the-paris-attacks-and-europes-security-challenges-episode-24/#respond Tue, 17 Nov 2015 02:48:26 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=394 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 governments. There is no framework, or level of response, that will allow intervening parties to resolve this problem anytime soon. So how do we cope with a security challenge that may persist for a decade – or multiple decades? This is the reality that we must face. The conflict in Syria and Iraq is not a crisis that can be “managed.” It is going to demand more of us, and our governments, than we would like. But as the saying goes – the enemy gets a vote.

Again, if you like what you’re hearing on Covert Contact please let me, and others, know. Your reviews and ratings help!

You can follow William J. Tucker on Twitter and read his guest posts on Blogs of War:

Everybody Spies – and for Good Reason
Hawaii a Priority Target for Foreign Espionage
Would the U.S. Really Kill Edward Snowden?
Snowden’s Snowjob?

Other Covert Contact Episodes Featuring William:
Episode 20: Government Email Problems, Wikileaks, Russia, Drone Leaks, NASA Security and Other Counterintelligence Nightmares
Episode 15: Hillary Clinton’s Email Server: Dissecting the Risks with William Tucker
Episode 12: Counterintelligence: William J. Tucker Breaks Down the Challenges

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/16/the-paris-attacks-and-europes-security-challenges-episode-24/feed/ 0 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... 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 governments. There is no framework, or level of response, that will […] John W. Little clean 44:23
War and the New Normal: Phil Walter on Life After War | Episode 23 http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/13/war-and-the-new-normal-phil-walter-on-life-after-war-episode-23/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/13/war-and-the-new-normal-phil-walter-on-life-after-war-episode-23/#respond Fri, 13 Nov 2015 12:04:26 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=385 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 think it might help others who are finding it difficult to adjust to life after war. But even if you aren’t a veteran, and even if you aren’t struggling, there’s something to learn here.

Phil has served in the military, the intelligence community, and the inter-agency. His written works are catalogued on Storify and archived at www.philwalter1058.com. I highly recommend them if you are at all interested in national security issues. You can follow him on Twitter @philwalter1058 and he is a member of the Military Writer’s Guild.

Phil’s “War and the New Normal” series that was featured on this podcast was originally published on the blog Point of Decision.

If you are enjoying Covert Contact, and would like to see content like this continue to be produced, please subscribe and learn how you can support the show.

The views expressed here are those of the author alone and do not contain information of an official nature.

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/13/war-and-the-new-normal-phil-walter-on-life-after-war-episode-23/feed/ 0 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 ... 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 think it might help others who are finding it difficult […] John W. Little clean 41:00
Supporting Independent Art in Afghanistan: Francesca Recchia Updates from Kabul | Episode 22 http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/08/supporting-independent-art-in-afghanistan-francesca-recchia-updates-from-kabul-episode-22/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/08/supporting-independent-art-in-afghanistan-francesca-recchia-updates-from-kabul-episode-22/#respond Mon, 09 Nov 2015 00:34:05 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=367 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 (which has been particularly vocal about Afghanistan lately). We then move on to discuss her work supporting established and emerging artists in the country.

This was a particularly enlightening conversation for me because Francesca pushed back hard (appropriately I think) against my tendency to view work like hers in the context of international aid or counter-extremism efforts. There may be a place for art sponsored to support social or political agendas but Francesca’s work comes from a different place. She makes a very strong case for putting the art, and the artists, first. Afghanistan has a rich cultural heritage spanning thousands of years and talented artists working today. We should be able to appreciate the work without forcing it into the context of the current conflict.

You can read some of Francesca’s work at Muftah.org, follow her on Twitter @kiccovich, read her blog, or support her work by buying her books – The Little Book of Kabul, Picnic in a Minefield, and Devices for Political Action: The Collective Towns in Iraqi Kurdistan.

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/08/supporting-independent-art-in-afghanistan-francesca-recchia-updates-from-kabul-episode-22/feed/ 0 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... 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 (which has been particularly vocal about Afghanistan lately). We then move on […] John W. Little clean 26:24
The Damascus Cover and the Psychology of Spies with Howard Kaplan | Episode 21 http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/02/the-damascus-cover-and-the-psychology-of-spies-with-howard-kaplan-episode-21/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/02/the-damascus-cover-and-the-psychology-of-spies-with-howard-kaplan-episode-21/#respond Tue, 03 Nov 2015 04:35:26 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=315 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 for Israeli intelligence in the Soviet Union (where he was eventually detained for a short time), and the psychology of human intelligence.

Spies make for dramatic characters in books and in film but real intelligence professionals have to pay a price for that drama. It is a life that can take a toll on even the most committed practitioners. Kaplan leverages his limited (but no less dramatic) brush with the profession to explore that tension in his work. We look at these aspects of the business, not only in his own work, but also through examples such as the classic le Carré character Alec Leamus and the life of the Israeli hero Eli Cohen.

You can follow @kaplanhow on Twitter.

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/11/02/the-damascus-cover-and-the-psychology-of-spies-with-howard-kaplan-episode-21/feed/ 0 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, 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 for Israeli intelligence in the Soviet Union (where he was eventually detained for […] John W. Little clean 24:33
Government Email Problems, Wikileaks, Russia, Drone Leaks, NASA Security and Other Counterintelligence Nightmares | Episode 20 http://covertcontact.com/2015/10/27/government-email-problems-wikileaks-russia-drones-leaks-nasa-security-and-other-counterintelligence-nightmares-episode-20/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/10/27/government-email-problems-wikileaks-russia-drones-leaks-nasa-security-and-other-counterintelligence-nightmares-episode-20/#respond Tue, 27 Oct 2015 05:46:22 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=279 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 Clinton’s email problems, and then ponder the broader risks associated with the personal accounts of key U.S. officials. And while we’re at it what’s with the curious lack of interest that organizations like Wikileaks have in exposing officials in Russia or North Korea. What’s up with that? Then we move on to drone leaks and drone policy before closing out the show with a look at the almost depressingly terrible security practices exhibited by NASA in the Bo Jiang case. Again, it’s a bit of a ramble but hopefully a fun one.

You can follow William J. Tucker on Twitter and read his guest posts on Blogs of War:

Everybody Spies – and for Good Reason
Hawaii a Priority Target for Foreign Espionage
Would the U.S. Really Kill Edward Snowden?
Snowden’s Snowjob?

Other Covert Contact Episodes Featuring William:
Episode 15: Hillary Clinton’s Email Server: Dissecting the Risks with William Tucker
Episode 12: Counterintelligence: William J. Tucker Breaks Down the Challenges

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/10/27/government-email-problems-wikileaks-russia-drones-leaks-nasa-security-and-other-counterintelligence-nightmares-episode-20/feed/ 0 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, 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 Clinton’s email problems, and then ponder the broader risks associated with the personal accounts of key U.S. […] John W. Little clean 50:26
Encryption as the New Norm: Discussing A Changing Internet with ProtonMail Co-Founder Andy Yen | Episode 19 http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/27/encryption-as-the-new-norm-discussing-a-changing-internet-with-protonmail-co-founder-andy-yen-episode-19/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/27/encryption-as-the-new-norm-discussing-a-changing-internet-with-protonmail-co-founder-andy-yen-episode-19/#respond Sat, 28 Mar 2015 03:18:26 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=259 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 audience.

Blogs of War readers know that I’m not an Edward Snowden fan, far from it in fact, but I do believe that we have to secure the applications and communication channels that now pervade our lives. Not because I’m worried about the NSA. Frankly I’m far more worried about every other threat. However, I’m also keenly aware of the terrorist and criminal threats we face and why law enforcement agencies and intelligence services (the friendly ones) are deeply concerned about bad actors having the ability to go dark.

There are well-intentioned people on both sides of the privacy debate (see episode 18 with retired FBI agent David Gomez for a law enforcement perspective) and Andy Yen, as a privacy advocate, makes a powerful case for making encrypted communication tools as widely available as possible.

For more from Andy I recommend his TED Talk “Think your email’s private? Think again“.

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/27/encryption-as-the-new-norm-discussing-a-changing-internet-with-protonmail-co-founder-andy-yen-episode-19/feed/ 0 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 possi... 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 audience. Blogs of War readers know that I’m not an Edward Snowden fan, far […] John W. Little clean 26:20
The Battle Between Encryption and Mass Surveillance with Former FBI Agent David Gomez | Episode 18 http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/22/the-battle-between-encryption-and-mass-surveillance-with-former-fbi-agent-david-gomez-episode-18/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/22/the-battle-between-encryption-and-mass-surveillance-with-former-fbi-agent-david-gomez-episode-18/#respond Mon, 23 Mar 2015 04:09:58 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=250 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.

Encrypted communication has been available to consumers for decades but new tools are arriving that are actually making it an accessible and realistic option for the majority of users. Easy to use strong encryption is, in many ways, a wonderful thing. It means that good people in bad places might have more freedom to communicate. It means that people can trust that a point to point communication is just that. But it also means that a lot of people with bad intentions will find it easier to go dark, to plot, and to recruit – often across international borders. How are governments going to cope with this especially when they’ve enjoyed great success with the current collection models that allow them to intercept electronic communications on a massive scale?

Even if you support strong encryption and disagree with government interception of electronic communications you must acknowledge the impact that cutting them out of the loop could have on our security. That tradeoff is the topic we struggle with in this episode.

You can follow David on Twitter @AllThingsHLS.

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/22/the-battle-between-encryption-and-mass-surveillance-with-former-fbi-agent-david-gomez-episode-18/feed/ 0 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 accept... 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. Encrypted communication has been available to consumers for decades but new tools are arriving that are […] John W. Little clean 30:40
Life, and Art, in Afghanistan with Francesca Recchia | Episode 17 http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/18/life-and-art-in-afghanistan-with-francesca-recchia-episode-17/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/18/life-and-art-in-afghanistan-with-francesca-recchia-episode-17/#respond Wed, 18 Mar 2015 13:49:22 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=244 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 artists, in the country. Francesca is working hard to develop cultural programs there and she explains how local artists view and approach their work in a conservative environment.

You can read some of Francesca’s work at Muftah.org, follow her on Twitter @kiccovich, read her blog, or support her work by buying her books – The Little Book of Kabul, Picnic in a Minefield, and Devices for Political Action: The Collective Towns in Iraqi Kurdistan

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/18/life-and-art-in-afghanistan-with-francesca-recchia-episode-17/feed/ 0 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, 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 artists, in the country. Francesca is working hard to develop cultural […] John W. Little clean 20:20
Why Terrorism Fails: A Discussion with Max Abrahms | Episode 16 http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/16/why-terrorism-fails-a-discussion-with-max-abrahms-episode-16/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/16/why-terrorism-fails-a-discussion-with-max-abrahms-episode-16/#respond Mon, 16 Mar 2015 13:50:58 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=233 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 that terrorism does not succeed where other more selective uses of violence might. I made a similar argument in episode 7 when I said that the much discussed (and very barbaric) ISIS social media campaign would ultimately be considered a failure because it had helped permanently undermine any possibility that the group could ever transition to political legitimacy.

You can follow Max on Twitter @MaxAbrahms and read his work at https://neu.academia.edu/MaxAbrahms. I also recommend reading “The Political Effectiveness of Terrorism Revisited” for a more comprehensive breakdown of Max’s research and arguments on this subject.

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/16/why-terrorism-fails-a-discussion-with-max-abrahms-episode-16/feed/ 0 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 ca... 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 that terrorism does not succeed where other more selective uses of violence might. I made […] John W. Little clean 37:17
Hillary Clinton’s Email Server: Dissecting the Risks with William Tucker | Episode 15 http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/10/hillary-clintons-email-server-dissecting-the-risks-with-william-tucker/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/10/hillary-clintons-email-server-dissecting-the-risks-with-william-tucker/#respond Wed, 11 Mar 2015 04:20:20 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=227 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) we are bypassing the political and legal issues to zero in on the risks associated with her decision – and there are many. Join us as we walk through the information security and intelligence aspects of this story and examine the risks posed to Hillary Clinton, our government, and potentially anyone that maintained contact with her through this method. If you’re not concerned now, you will be.

You can follow William J. Tucker on Twitter and read his guest posts on Blogs of War:

Everybody Spies – and for Good Reason
Hawaii a Priority Target for Foreign Espionage
Would the U.S. Really Kill Edward Snowden?
Snowden’s Snowjob?

Other Covert Contact Episodes Featuring William:
Episode 12 | Counterintelligence: William J. Tucker Breaks Down the Challenges

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/10/hillary-clintons-email-server-dissecting-the-risks-with-william-tucker/feed/ 0 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... 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) we are bypassing the political and legal issues to zero in on the risks associated with her […] John W. Little clean 29:28
Andy Priest on the Importance of Developing New International Crisis Policing Models | Episode 14 http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/09/andy-priest-on-the-importance-of-developing-new-international-crisis-policing-models-episode-14/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/09/andy-priest-on-the-importance-of-developing-new-international-crisis-policing-models-episode-14/#respond Mon, 09 Mar 2015 12:46:39 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=221 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 of building this capability now so that participating nations can draw on a stabilizing resource in an inevitable crisis rather than over-reacting, over-reaching, or stretching existing resources to the breaking point. It’s an important concept that will only get more important if the threat of Charlie Hebdo style attacks (or other destabilizing attacks) scale up in impact and frequency. Preserving individual liberty could prove challenging in such an environment and Andy makes the case that clearly segregating the roles of police, military, and specialized response forces is work that should be occurring now – before the crisis.

You can follow Andy Priest on Twitter @Priestic1. Andy blogs at https://medium.com/@Priestic1.

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/09/andy-priest-on-the-importance-of-developing-new-international-crisis-policing-models-episode-14/feed/ 0 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. 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 of building this capability now so that participating nations can draw on a stabilizing resource in an […] John W. Little clean 35:33
Scriven King on Balancing Security, Values, and Public Perception in Modern Policing | Episode 13 http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/05/scriven-king-on-balancing-security-values-and-public-perception-in-modern-policing-episode-13/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/05/scriven-king-on-balancing-security-values-and-public-perception-in-modern-policing-episode-13/#respond Thu, 05 Mar 2015 18:42:12 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=217 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 threats. Evolving to meet those threats, and leverage those technologies, without significantly changing what it means to be a police officer, without undermining the ideals of the profession, and without permanently damaging public perception of the profession is proving difficult. Even greater challenges loom on the horizon so the time for serious apolitical dialogue is now.

You can follow Scriven on Twitter @ScrivenLKing, listen to his security podcast, The Gate Shack, and read his thoughts on security at his blog, The Security Dialogue.

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/03/05/scriven-king-on-balancing-security-values-and-public-perception-in-modern-policing-episode-13/feed/ 0 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 thr... 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 threats. Evolving to meet those threats, and leverage those technologies, without significantly changing what it means to be a police […] John W. Little clean 29:09
Counterintelligence: William J. Tucker Breaks Down the Challenges | Episode 12 http://covertcontact.com/2015/01/31/counterintelligence-william-j-tucker-breaks-down-the-challenges-episode-12/ http://covertcontact.com/2015/01/31/counterintelligence-william-j-tucker-breaks-down-the-challenges-episode-12/#respond Sat, 31 Jan 2015 06:27:48 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=179 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 hints at that. Like all intelligence disciplines, it is faced with a rapidly changing environment and overwhelming array of threats. The sheer number of threats, the scope of it all, will force the private sector and governments into far tighter partnerships as they struggle to protect intellectual capital and traditional intelligence targets.

You can follow William J. Tucker on Twitter and read his guest posts on Blogs of War:

Everybody Spies – and for Good Reason
Hawaii a Priority Target for Foreign Espionage
Would the U.S. Really Kill Edward Snowden?
Snowden’s Snowjob?

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http://covertcontact.com/2015/01/31/counterintelligence-william-j-tucker-breaks-down-the-challenges-episode-12/feed/ 0 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 h... 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 hints at that. Like all intelligence disciplines, it is faced with a rapidly changing environment and overwhelming […] John W. Little clean 43:30
Counterterrorism Challenges – Pondering Seemingly Unsolvable Problems with Phillip Smyth | Episode 11 http://covertcontact.com/2014/12/19/counterterrorism-challenges-pondering-seemingly-unsolvable-problems-with-phillip-smyth-episode-11/ http://covertcontact.com/2014/12/19/counterterrorism-challenges-pondering-seemingly-unsolvable-problems-with-phillip-smyth-episode-11/#respond Sat, 20 Dec 2014 04:04:02 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=172 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, and we touch on that topic, but most of the interview is spent looking at the big challenges we face in countering terrorism and its sponsors. It’s an interesting conversation that illustrates the dynamic and difficult problems that we continue to face in places like Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon, Yemen, and Bahrain.

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http://covertcontact.com/2014/12/19/counterterrorism-challenges-pondering-seemingly-unsolvable-problems-with-phillip-smyth-episode-11/feed/ 0 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. 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, and we touch on that topic, but most of the interview is spent looking at the big challenges we face in […] John W. Little clean 59:38
The Senate Torture Report | Episode 10 http://covertcontact.com/2014/12/10/the-senate-torture-report-episode-10/ http://covertcontact.com/2014/12/10/the-senate-torture-report-episode-10/#respond Wed, 10 Dec 2014 14:05:20 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=168 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 people who serve them strayed into territory where most of us instinctively know America does not belong. The failures continued though – there were failures in implementation, failures in oversight, and failures even today as our political class is failing to find a collaborative resolution to this problem that does not further harm American interests. But America, unlike some countries, is dynamic and very much a work in progress. When we stumble, and we do, it is important that we acknowledge our mistakes, make improvements, and continue moving forward.

Hot Wars are ugly terrible things. Cold wars are too. It is only the scale of the ugliness which changes. America has never been able to find morally comfortable ground in the most violent parts of either despite, at times, excelling at both. Perhaps it says something about our struggle to attain the ideal even while the forces that rage against us fully embrace the darkest parts of humanity. That is the most optimistic take on it all but it is also the one I believe. At our best, American’s have a brighter vision of the world than most others, and while we are far from perfect, we do continue to make progress. Hold that up to the world envisioned by our many of our enemies and the contrast is striking. I want it to stay that way.

That is one reason it is important to confront and rethink the practices we put in place after 9/11. Perhaps some of it can be rationalized. Much of it likely not. But either way the systematic abuse of people, even terrible people, is not a machine that we, as a nation, should put into motion. As a realist I can conjure up scenarios where almost anything is justified but I expect those cases to be the exception. When there is a bureaucracy, workforce, documentation, legal findings, and a language to support that abuse the exceptional threatens to become routine.

Some would say that water-boarding, humiliation, threats, sleep deprivation and other enhanced interrogation tactics fall far short of the brutality exhibited by our enemies. That’s true but it does not make widespread adoption of those tactics acceptable. I trust that America is in no rush to match the inhumanity of it’s enemies. Barbarism is growing and if we chose to we could match and exceed the inhumanity of our enemies with the press of a button. But we don’t do that. We take the hard way. We try to avoid unnecessary suffering even at the cost of the lives and limbs of our own. We are different. We are not them. And we should strive to remain that way even if it is the most difficult road to travel.

The release of this report, and the reaction that has followed, is intensely political and partisan. Rather than scramble to score points for their party all Americans should be looking at this and asking if it fits the their vision for their country and if it will help us tackle the growing threat of Islamic extremism and terrorism. Are we doing what is right and are we being effective? If not, we will eventually suffer collectively.

America is a nation that should advance the most optimistic vision for humanity. It should have a firm sense of itself and what is right. No enemy should ever be able to use fear to drive us one inch closer to systematically adopting the extremes that they embrace. We face enemies with no limits, no constraints on the terrible things they can do to advance their cause, but we can beat them without becoming them. In fact, that is the only way that we will win.

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http://covertcontact.com/2014/12/10/the-senate-torture-report-episode-10/feed/ 0 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 ... 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 people who serve them strayed into territory where most of […] John W. Little clean 6:20
Art in Afghanistan: Francesca Recchia Updates from Kabul | Episode 9 http://covertcontact.com/2014/11/28/art-in-afghanistan-francesca-recchia-updates-from-kabul-episode-9/ http://covertcontact.com/2014/11/28/art-in-afghanistan-francesca-recchia-updates-from-kabul-episode-9/#respond Sat, 29 Nov 2014 00:40:03 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=163 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 daily updates that I asked her to record shortly after I started this project. Francesca’s work is the kind of activity that so often gets overlooked in the process of rebuilding a nation that has experienced significant conflict but cultural and intellectual pursuits are a direct reflection on the society in which they take place and, in the best of times, have enough influence to transform their environment. In creating a space where art and ideas can be pursued we are giving the best parts of humanity a foothold.

You can read some of Francesca’s work at Muftah.org, follow her on Twitter @kiccovich, read her blog, or support her work by buying her books – The Little Book of Kabul, Picnic in a Minefield, and Devices for Political Action: The Collective Towns in Iraqi Kurdistan.

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http://covertcontact.com/2014/11/28/art-in-afghanistan-francesca-recchia-updates-from-kabul-episode-9/feed/ 0 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 seve... 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 daily updates that I asked her to record shortly after I started this project. Francesca’s work […] John W. Little clean 14:44
The Navy SEAL Who Killed Osama bin Laden and the Heroes You’ll Never Know | Episode 8 http://covertcontact.com/2014/11/14/the-navy-seal-who-killed-osama-bin-laden-and-the-heroes-youll-never-know-episode-8/ http://covertcontact.com/2014/11/14/the-navy-seal-who-killed-osama-bin-laden-and-the-heroes-youll-never-know-episode-8/#respond Fri, 14 Nov 2014 22:38:00 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=159 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 culture at large plays in chipping away at the notion of quiet professionalism and share some thoughts about how we can change course. There is also a call from Phillip Smyth, a researcher at the University of Maryland’s Laboratory for Computational Cultural Dynamics. Phillip shares some thoughts on social media and its impact on national security, politics, and the collection of intelligence.

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http://covertcontact.com/2014/11/14/the-navy-seal-who-killed-osama-bin-laden-and-the-heroes-youll-never-know-episode-8/feed/ 0 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 cul... 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 culture at large plays in chipping away at […] John W. Little clean 8:54
Why Daesh’s Social Media Campaign is a Massive Failure | Episode 7 http://covertcontact.com/2014/11/04/why-daeshs-social-media-campaign-is-a-massive-failure-episode-7/ http://covertcontact.com/2014/11/04/why-daeshs-social-media-campaign-is-a-massive-failure-episode-7/#respond Wed, 05 Nov 2014 04:09:48 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=154 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 they, in fact, undermining themselves with every tweet and every recorded act of brutality? You’ve read the title so I think you know where I’m going with this.

This episode ends with a message from Ambassador Lukman Faily. Iraq’s Ambassador to the United States is an engaging presence on Twitter and I’ve interviewed him twice for Blogs of War. The Ambassador argues that Daesh is a global problem, not just an Iraqi one, and comments on the changes his government is making to address critical internal political and social issues.

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http://covertcontact.com/2014/11/04/why-daeshs-social-media-campaign-is-a-massive-failure-episode-7/feed/ 0 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... 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 they, in fact, undermining themselves with every tweet and every recorded […] John W. Little clean 11:53
Robots and the Future of Warfare: The Advantage Might Not Lie with the Inventors | Episode 6 http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/30/robots-and-the-future-of-warfare-the-advantage-might-not-lie-with-the-inventors-episode-6/ http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/30/robots-and-the-future-of-warfare-the-advantage-might-not-lie-with-the-inventors-episode-6/#respond Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:00:03 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=124 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?

Blogs of War contributor William Tucker also called in to the Covert Contact voicemail line and shared some thoughts on how the U.S. intelligence community should be allocating its resources.

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http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/30/robots-and-the-future-of-warfare-the-advantage-might-not-lie-with-the-inventors-episode-6/feed/ 0 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 posi... 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. […] John W. Little clean 15:56
Lone Wolf Terrorism and the Importance of Perspective | Episode 5 http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/25/lone-wolf-terrorism-and-the-importance-of-perspective-episode-5/ http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/25/lone-wolf-terrorism-and-the-importance-of-perspective-episode-5/#respond Sat, 25 Oct 2014 20:05:30 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=103 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.

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http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/25/lone-wolf-terrorism-and-the-importance-of-perspective-episode-5/feed/ 0 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... 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 […] John W. Little clean 16:06
What the Attack in Ottawa Teaches Us About Terrorists – And Ourselves | Episode 4 http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/22/what-the-attack-in-ottawa-shows-us-about-terrorists-and-ourselves-episode-4/ http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/22/what-the-attack-in-ottawa-shows-us-about-terrorists-and-ourselves-episode-4/#respond Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:56:25 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=92 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.

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http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/22/what-the-attack-in-ottawa-shows-us-about-terrorists-and-ourselves-episode-4/feed/ 0 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. 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 […] John W. Little clean 7:36
Crypto Wars: Winners, Losers, and the Case for Compromise | Episode 3 http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/20/crypto-wars-winners-losers-and-the-case-for-compromise-episode-3/ http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/20/crypto-wars-winners-losers-and-the-case-for-compromise-episode-3/#respond Tue, 21 Oct 2014 04:26:34 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=76 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.

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http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/20/crypto-wars-winners-losers-and-the-case-for-compromise-episode-3/feed/ 0 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. 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 […] John W. Little clean 13:14
The State of Twitter, the Struggle to Understand, and The Perils of Technology for Terrorists | Episode 2 http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/15/the-state-of-twitter-the-struggle-to-understand-and-the-perils-of-technology-for-terrorists-episode-2/ http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/15/the-state-of-twitter-the-struggle-to-understand-and-the-perils-of-technology-for-terrorists-episode-2/#respond Wed, 15 Oct 2014 05:01:49 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=62 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.

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http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/15/the-state-of-twitter-the-struggle-to-understand-and-the-perils-of-technology-for-terrorists-episode-2/feed/ 0 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. 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 […] John W. Little clean 24:20
Intelligence Failures, Agent Storm, and eDiplomacy Trolling | Episode 1 http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/06/intelligence-failures-agent-storm-and-ediplomacy-trolling-episode-1/ http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/06/intelligence-failures-agent-storm-and-ediplomacy-trolling-episode-1/#respond Mon, 06 Oct 2014 22:30:45 +0000 http://covertcontact.com/?p=13 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?

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http://covertcontact.com/2014/10/06/intelligence-failures-agent-storm-and-ediplomacy-trolling-episode-1/feed/ 0 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. 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 […] John W. Little clean 16:08