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.
Covert Contact is going to get off to an interesting start in 2016 but I can’t reveal some of the guests just yet. I’m excited and I think you will be too. Subscribe on iTunes, or through any number of other platforms, to get episodes delivered directly to your computer or mobile device as soon as I release them.
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In episode 31 of the Covert Contact podcast 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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William Tucker joins me again for episode 30 of the Covert Contact Podcast. The San Bernardino attack is an odd one in many ways but understanding it is critical as this model of small scale attacks, directed at soft targets, and using readily available weapons is going to be a persistent and growing threat. We explore the details of the attack itself, the attacker’s motivations, the challenges these models present to on the intelligence and law enforcement fronts, and how the threat may evolve as ISIS expands horizontal and faces increasing pressure on their home turf.
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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.