A Look at Transnational Crime from a National Security Perspective

Andrew Trabulsi, entrepreneur, consultant, and co-editor of Warlords, Inc.: Black Markets, Broken States, and the Rise of the Warlord Entrepreneur, joined me on Covert Contact (episode 42) 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.

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Ungoverned Spaces: What Threat do they Pose?

Since the attacks of 9/11 there has been much research and policy work done on ungoverned spaces.  An early discussion of ungoverned spaces occurred in February, 2004 when the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, provided a statement for the record to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence [1].  His 2004 definition of the term spoke to “geographic areas where governments do not exercise effective control….Terrorist groups and narco-traffickers use these areas as sanctuaries to train, plan and organize, relatively free from interference.”  From a U.S. perspective, the idea that ungoverned spaces pose a threat to U.S. interests is continued today in the 2015 U.S. National Security Strategy [2] which states that “[a]n array of terrorist threats has gained traction in areas of instability, limited opportunity, and broken governance.”  This article will discuss the term ungoverned spaces; what it means, its ties to human nature, how ungoverned spaces in and of themselves are not a threat, as well as outline a broad concept for action and identify one additional consideration.

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Podcast: Covert Contact Wraps up 2015 with William Tucker

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.

Your feedback is appreciated. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and tell me what you like, or don’t like about each episode.

 

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Podcast: Understanding the Limits of Intelligence and Counterterrorism

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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