Australian Approaches to Counterterrorism | Episode 77

The third week of episodes focused on Australian security perspectives continues with a discussion about Australia’s approach to counterterrorism with Levi West. Levi is the Director of Terrorism Studies at Charles Sturt University in Canberra.

Our discussion is wide ranging and spans how the university’s terrorism program is structured, the legal framework governing security operations inside Australia, community engagement, and the nature of the threats facing Australia.

Understanding and Developing Resilience To Information Warfare | Episode 75

Dr. Clint Arizmendi, an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow for the Australian Graduate School of Policing & Security’s Terrorism Studies program at Charles Sturt University, joins me to discuss information warfare in episode 75.

Of course, we look at the subject primarily through the lens of current events. Russia is covered, as is the Trump administration, social media, and the role technology companies and their platforms play in facilitating propaganda networks and distribution.

This is an issue that, primarily thanks to technology, can feel a bit overwhelming at times. The volume of propaganda that can be directed at an adversary is unprecedented. The ways in which it can be finely tuned and targeted are new developments as well. But all is not lost and we offer reasons for hope. We also argue for slight changes in perspective that will help mitigate the impact of messaging that seeks only to create chaos and divide its targets.

Deep State Conspiracies | Episode 74


Alex Finley
, a former officer of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, joined me to discuss the rise of deep state conspiracies that often feature a monolithic, highly partisan, intelligence community at their center.

Much of Alex’s work (see the hilarious Victor in the Rubble and The Intelligence Community: Smart People Looking at Computers) demystifies the work of the intelligence community by exposing the tedious realities of government work. It is a perfect contrast to conspiracy theorist fantasies.

We also take on the current administration’s view of the IC, Russia’s role in fueling these (ultimately damaging) views in the United States, and the unusually high media profile of former IC leaders during these turbulent times.

Data, AI, and Ethics | Episode 73

Entrepreneur Evanna Hu joins me to discuss our rapidly evolving relationship with data. The explosion of data streams and technologies that offload challenging analysis to machines are creating interesting national security challenges and opportunities at lightening speed. Evanna, and her company Omelas, seek to leverage these technologies to address hard national security problems (such as countering violent extremism) where metrics have been difficult to acquire or generate.

While opportunity abounds, so do potential ethical dilemmas. It’s impossible to discuss the potential of these technologies without considering the countless ways that they could be abused. Many people still fail to appreciate the amount of data they generate and how it can be used by actors both good and bad.

Beyond Russia: Overlooked Counterintelligence Threats | Episode 72

Russian intelligence presents a significant challenge for the United States but it is far from the only threat. There are dozens of nations and non-state actors actively collecting against us at any given time. There are countless companies engaging in corporate espionage. Every organization has a hostile insider – or will soon enough. Threats are everywhere. Podcast regular William J. Tucker joins me to review these threats, how governments allocate resources to fight them, and strategies that any individual or organization can employ to protect themselves.

The Manchester Attack | Episode 67

Covert Contact returns from hiatus with William J. Tucker, a regular contributor on counterintelligence and security topics for Blogs of War and Covert Contact, joining me for a look at the Manchester attack. This episode was recorded shortly after a suicide bomber struck an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England on May 22nd and the discussion reflects what was known at that time.

You can follow William on Twitter @tuckerwj.

Intelligence Analysis: Feedback, Bias, and Other Challenges | Episode 66

Dean Baratta, Chief of the Analysis Bureau at New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, joins me to discuss how bias can impact both the production and consumption of intelligence products. NJOHSP also produces a significant amount of unclassified material so we discuss how that can be interpreted (or misinterpreted) and how his office manages the often constructive feedback that it receives from the public.

You can follow NJOHSP on Twitter (@NJOHSP) and access their unclassified intelligence products at njhomelandsecurity.gov. Their podcast, Intelligence, Unclassified is available on iTunes and other platforms.

Russia, Trump, and Hillary | Episode 62

In episode 62 I look at what may have been the most bizarre presidential debate in U.S. history. Covert Contact regular William Tucker joins me later in the show to discuss the U.S. government’s formal acknowledgement that Russia is meddling in the U.S. election.

Listener email makes its debut in this episode. If you’d like to submit your own thoughts for possible inclusion in future episodes please drop me a line at covertcontact@protonmail.com.

Inside the President’s Daily Brief with David Priess | Episode 58

Dr. David Priess delivered the Presidents Daily Brief during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations and has produced the definitive history on the subject with The President’s Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America’s Presidents from Kennedy to Obama. David joined me to discuss the monumental challenge of structuring, producing, and presenting one of the intelligence community’s most important products.