The Poisoning of Sergei Skripal | Episode 94

Fred Burton, former deputy chief of counterterrorism at the Diplomatic Security Service and the author of GHOST: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent, Chasing Shadows: A Special Agent’s Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice, and Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi joined me shortly after the attack on Sergei Skripal. Skripal. a former Russian double agent now living in the UK, was poisoned with a Russian novichok nerve agent developed during the Soviet era. We look at the many implications of this brazen attack, security issues surrounding it, and the need for a serious response.

Propaganda, Influence, and Disruption | Episode 79

Andrew Trabulsi, a strategy, technology, and intelligence consultant and co-editor of Warlords, Inc.: Black Markets, Broken States, and the Rise of the Warlord Entrepreneur, joins me in episode 79 to look at recent developments in the social media space of the investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election and what the evidence says about our ability (or inability) to identify and address modern propaganda. The techniques used in the 2016 election are not new but the potential for disaster rises as awareness about how they can be leveraged and misused spreads and the technological and social changes that amplify their effects continue their rapid advance. Complete solutions will remain elusive so how do we, and the platforms we depend on, push back?

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.

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.

Iran in the Age of Trump | Episode 70

Phillip Smyth is a researcher at the University of Maryland who focuses on Iran-backed Shiite proxy groups. He is also well-known for his Hizballah Cavalcade project on Jihadology. In episode 70 Phillip joins me for a quick look at how the change in U.S. leadership is impacting the balance of sectarian power and our policy toward Iran. Are there fundamental shifts underway? Is the U.S. actually leading or are actors in the region just seizing a perceived window of opportunity to advance their own agendas? We tackle it all in this episode.

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.

Putin’s Struggle for Relevancy and Power | Episode 60

Covert Contact regular William Tucker joins me for a quick look at Putin’s outlook and the challenges he faces despite domestic political wins, successful rounds of international meddling, and attempts to reshape Russia’s domestic security, military, and intelligence services. Putin appears to be working from a position of strength but appearances can often be deceiving in strongman politics.